The family holiday can be the holy grail of the year. Something we work toward, look forward to, count down to, save for, all for those two weeks. Two weeks that yours to do with as you please, without the house to keep in order, school runs, and bosses to answer to. No pressure then.
However, if you are parent you will know all to well that kids don’t always feel the holiday vibes. Not like us adults. Everyday is a holiday for the little people eh? There can be real merit in the phrase ‘same sh*t, different location’. Take my word for it. Like it or not, once the tiny terrors join your family your holidays will never be the same again, at least not for a good 18 years anyway.
In the two and a half years we have been parents we have embarked on a fair few getaways, well into the double figures. They haven’t all been a success, neither have they all been a failure. They have however been very different. Our travel needs have changed, as have our expectations and what we now consider to be a good or successful holiday. Through some serious trial and error we have found ways to make the most of our family holiday. To try to get it back to what it should be – an enjoyable break for all and not just the same sh*t different location.
Without doubt, the biggest tip I could give to any parents holiday with children, particularly young children (although granted it applies irrespective of age) would be this – choose your accommodation carefully.
We have stayed in hotels, all-inclusive, half board, one bedroom, two bedroom. We have stayed in self catering apartments, private villas, private apartment rentals even lodges. We have covered our bases on this front.
Without doubt the best, and most enjoyable holidays we have had are those were we opted for private rentals. The reasons are fourfold:
When you are booking you can choose exactly what villa/apartment/house you are renting. You know precisely where it is, what it looks like, the amenities (wifi!!), pretty much anything you need to know can be found out. When staying in hotels you are often given your room at pot luck. In the past we have been given a room at the bottom of 4 flights of stairs, with two prams and no lift. Go figure.
You can choose whether you want to be on one level, whether you want a ground floor or top floor. Whether you want 3 bed or 2, 1 bath or 3. You can choose to have a private or shared pool. A Pool table, hot tub, BBQ, Satellite TV channels, a washing machine (sounds the opposite of holiday I know, but it is actually darn handy to have) – your options are greatly increased.
This is a massive bonus for us. Clearly houses/apartments etc are generally bigger than hotel rooms. At the very least you will certainly be paying less for more space in a private rental than a hotel room. You have bedrooms – yes plural. You won’t need to cram cots and restless babies into your room, or drag the sofa bed out every night for your older child who drew the short straw. You have bathrooms, living space, dining areas and a kitchen! Never underestimate the need for kitchen, when you have children, or at least a fridge and a kettle. Chances are you will also have, or can opt to have, outdoor space. In our last private rental we had it in droves, it was a godsend. So much so we returned to it. Allowing the kids to be able to run about on the grass in the sun was priceless – for them and us. The noise
Damn kids, and babies, can be loud. So can a shouty mum who is pleading with her kids to stop running on the concrete floor with wet feet. I am 99% sure that last time we stayed in a hotel our neighbours requested to move, probably due to the noise. It was a two bed ‘apartment’. We had a bedroom, one baby in the other room and one in the living room – we literally couldn’t fit him in anywhere else. He was an early riser and I suspect this was heard by our neighbours. We did our utmost to limit their racket, but guys, noise travels. Our last 3 private rentals have either been detached or as they aren’t part of a hotel are generally sound proof. It is considerably less stressful.
So you might be thinking private rentals don’t offer some of the key things that you might look for in a holiday, such as prepared meals, maid service, kids club, night-time entertainment. Well that is not always the case. We recently stayed on the Mar Menor Golf Resort in Murcia. It is a huge gated complex with private villas and a large hotel. During the summer months, the hotel runs a kids club open to all and nightly entertainment. There is also ‘El Boulevard’ just outside the complex, which again has a mini disco, and a variety of bars and restaurants, where guess what, people prepare and clean away your meals for you. You can see what I am on about and gander some excellent private rentals on the Mar Menor by clicking here.
Destinations such as Cyprus are another example that cater perfectly for families who are looking for the best of both worlds. Protaras strip at night offers a plethora of family entertainment for all ages and a large variety of bars and restaurants. Yet you can rent some absolutely stunning private villas, giving you all the space, peace and amenities you require.
So what about the cost? Oh it sounds lovely renting a villa, if you can afford it. Well actually the prices are not what you might expect. You are not paying to stay in a hotel after all, you are not contributing toward their bills, running costs and staff pay packet. Often you will find owners simply want to cover their outgoings for the property. Of course you will expect a hike in prices depending on the season but there is a private rental out there for all budgets but moreover it will most likely be comfortably in your budget.
What do you think? Have you ever rented or considered a private rental for your holiday? I would love to hear from you. If it is something you would be interested in then some of these may be of interest to you.
This is a collaborative post, however the content and opinions are entirely my own.